Thursday, 20 January 2011

Wednesday 19 January - A sawdust burner and a smoke filled room

A day of unfamiliar manual labour and outside work yesterday had come hard on two ageing softies who have been away from the work of rural life for far too long.  It was good to come back to it, felt like coming home, but, boy, did we ache!  So we stayed in bed till 10am.  KP sleeping, me writing and researching.  I did, however, get very excited when I finally got the internet to load a couple of pages without what is becoming the murder inducing message of "Page has timed out".  I swear this dongle is going to be jumped up and down on and obliterated in a fit of rage before too long.

The pages that got us so excited were how to light a sawdust burner!  We have a sawdust burner in our bedroom, a mass of sawdust in one of the barns and no idea whatsoever what to do with it.  For two people all but camping in a house without heating (and with snow on the way) this was very exciting indeed.  So the pages were saved until later and we got up to go and explore Chieti in the hope of finding second-hand shops, antique shops, architectural salvage yards, anything to start filling our house with characterful 'junk'.

All we want is some old iron coat hooks, door furniture, old terracotta pots, a tatty old kitchen table, a few chests and the odd wardrobe or three.  Is that really too much to ask?  Oh, and we could do with some old rugs too.  So far, however, such shops have proved a little, how can I say it?  Elusive.

Chieti was lovely and we did have a good old mooch around, but failed to find what we were looking for.  Back to the drawing  board, I guess.  We did, however, find a builder's merchant which lit our excitement once more.  We had a good wander round ooh'ing and ah'ing at the timber and tiles.

When we got back, late afternoon, the sun had come out so more strimming and raking was accomplished.  Then, most exciting of all, it was time to experiment with the sawdust burner!  Hoorah!  What larks, Pip!

It started off really well with the filling and pressing down and the building of a hollowed out chimney through the middle.  It even lit with a concertina of scrumpled paper fed through the chimney with a match put to it at the bottom, just like it was supposed to.  OK, we did resort to a firelighter, but it was only a little one...

It's alight!  Way hay!
Feeling very pleased with ourselves and really looking forward to a warm bedroom (or at least one with the chill taken off), we settled down for the evening in front of the kitchen fire.  Every now and then we'd wander out, check on the outside chimney, feel the pipes going through the bedrooms and marvel at the greatness of this amazing overgrown tin can on three legs.

And then the smoke started.

Billowing out of every crevice possible.  No longer an amazing tin can but a stupid, useless piece of junk that will be finding its way (as soon as its cooled down) to the municipal dump (if only there was one).

It smoked and smoked.  Our eyes streamed and we had to fling the windows wide open.  A debate then ensued about the benefits of warmth versus the benefits of clean air.  Clean air won and we were to go to bed with the windows open.  Deep joy.

The flame before the smoke!
By this time, however, the little gem had actually settled down to a lovely smokeless red hot glow, giving off the most delightful gentle heat.  Sadly, though, we were, by this time, far too freaked by the possibility of suffocating in our sleep and losing all we'd just achieved that we didn't trust this machine one jot.  The windows stayed firmly wedged open all night and we slept in wooly socks and jumpers, with hot water bottles providing the finishing touch.

The Good Life.  Bah humbug.

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